SINGER RELEASES HER LATEST HAUNTING OPUS
“Her voice beckons mercilessly to the physical world like the bodiless spirit that haunts the mansion on a far-away hill. Wanderers
beware...” Independent Songwriters Magazine Pick of the Month
"Dreamy, visionary, cutting edge." Holly Popple, Herndon Festival, Virginia
Woven in the language of poetry and dreams, Talon of the Blackwater, Berklee graduate Laura Siersema's third independent release, is "fiercely original", challenging and ambitious. Lush, complex layers and the high qualities unique to her voice transform the folk music of her childhood into a "depth and scale of music so strong, a soul searing connection to it becomes inevitable."
Produced by Jay Hovnanian and mastered by Jeff Lipton, this album features Michael Farquharson (MCA artist/Juno nominee), T Lavitz (Grammy nominee of the Dixie Dregs), Eugene Friesen (Grammy winning Paul Winter Consort), Nick Falk and Marcelo Woloski (Maeve Gilchrist Group), Nate Comp (Josh Logan Band), Bruce J. LeBlanc and Alastair Moock. Laura has played at art festivals and venues around the United States and opened for John Gorka, Cheryl Wheeler, Connie Kaldor, Dana Cooper, Brooks Williams and Lori McKenna. Her poetry has been published in Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Cream City Review, Lullwater Poetry Review and others. She is a graduate of the University of Florida in nursing and Berklee College of Music in songwriting. Before leaving Boston in 2002, she was accompanist for choral and theater productions, sang with New England Vocal Arts Ensemble, and was soprano soloist at Eliot Church in Newton. She studied voice in the bel canto tradition with John LaBella and briefly with Phyllis Curtin.
"The major labels are always looking for artists who fit in neat categories, to simplify their marketing efforts. Artists know this, and try to make music that will fit. But some artists are driven to make music that falls between the cracks, that fits no musical genre very well at all. Sometimes, there are traces of various musical genres, but combined in unexpected ways. And sometimes there is no genre that can describe the music fairly. Always, these artists show a fierce originality. Some of the worst music I have ever heard is like this; the artist creates something abstract, without the slightest regard to connecting with their potential listeners. But some of the best music I have ever heard also defies categorization. Just as the English language is neither French nor German, but is derived from both, this music is a new language, but one that speaks eloquently." (Oliver di Place blog on Laura's work)
Her previous releases, When I Left Loss and Love Flows Like the Blood of a River (with Eugene Friesen, cello, and Steve Wilkes, percussion) contain unique combinations of songs and spoken word pieces that “lend a riveting, personal touch and at times cut so deep the hair on the listener's skin goes on end.” (Josh Shear, Chicopee Herald)
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING
“While the voice gives Talon of the Blackwater its beauty, her writing is what gives it depth.” The Republican
"Inspired by greats like guitarist Pat Metheny, Siersema brings the power of her crystalline voice and compositional skills to bear on her third release...understated accompaniments are at times brilliant...Siersema takes the traditional spiritual 'Wade in the Water' and makes it her own with a ghostly arrangement reminiscent of Daniel Lanois's work...the excellent 14-minute 'Along the Fenway' features cellist Eugene Friesen and is strikingly beautiful." Progression
“Enthralling and complex music with world-class musicians.” Greenfield Recorder
“Experimental, serene and surreal...” Sarah Craig, Caffe Lena
"We LOVE your music." Kelley & Cyrus,Yurt Radio, Hampshire College
“Folk fans should take note, as well as those that like classical music, and Tori Amos.” Tampa Tribune
"A touch Celtic, a touch New Age, she is uncategorizable, a passion rare in folk music today." WCUW, Worcester
“Laura is an acoustic craftsman, a wordsmith…with the soul and lyrics of a true poet…” Indie-Music Reviews
"STUNNING!" KUNV, Las Vegas
“...they should make movies out of music like this.” Jamaica Plain Arts News
“There are a few who can carry us beyond....by indenting our souls--by effecting change in the soul whereby the mood is retained and perhaps never to be lost...your music has the power to do just this! You have given a sort of 'storehouse' for our spirit's garden. The places that are in greatest need of nourishment are thereby fulfilled."
in a letter from Vincent Tripi, haiku poet
All albums are available for sale on iTunes, Rhapsody, Amazon and CDBaby, among other online and retail outlets, as well as on her website.
Two related posts "Between the Cracks" and "Spotlight Specials: Jazz Singers"
Raised in Amherst, Virginia, I grew up listening to my parents sing in their folk music group, the Hon-o-lees and the church choir. From the time I was little, I was playing ukelele, guitar and piano, hearing music live, and performing, too.
But I didn't know music was my life's purpose until I went away to college--by then our family had moved to Florida. During classes at University of Florida I wrote lyrics on napkins and, in-between classes, stole away to the auditorium to play the piano for hours. I even played piano for my nursing class graduation, which felt like the most natural thing in the world for me to do.
For the obligatory year's worth of "med/surg" experience after graduating as an RN, I worked on the ophthalmology unit at the teaching hospital at UF. The following summer I left Gainesville to work in a summer sports camp in the Berkshires, and that fall moved to New York City--14th Street and 7th Avenue--where I lived for 7 years, working as a nurse, first on a psychiatric unit at St. Vincent's Hospital, then in hospice at Cabrini Medical Center.
In fits and starts I made it out to open mikes, or sat in at the piano at a local bar. I wrote my first really good song after getting mugged. Standing next to the bar inside a dimly lit Folk City one night, awaiting my turn to play, an epiphany came and lingered for a moment: "This is where I belong." Music was a low simmering desire that seemed to take forever to establish itself in real life. I bought a piano, gave lessons, accompanied New York Women's Chorus for a few years... and took my first classical voice lessons with Natalie Burgess the year before going away to school.
In 1987, after throwing my nursing books down the incinerator just outside my apartment door and getting the piano into a Uhaul, I moved to Boston with my two precious cats to attend Berklee College of Music for songwriting. It was there I discovered I was a poet.
It was also that first summer that I met my partner in life, George Touloumtzis.
Despite performing when I was a kid, I had become petrified as a teenager--my voice, in all its forms, had gone into hiding. Knowing I had to recover her somehow, through my very body, I began studying voice while also at Berklee. Luckily, John LaBella, a New England Conservatory grad, was a genius for teaching. We worked together for 7 years. He taught in the bel canto tradition--here I experienced for the first time the full range of my voice, with all its blessings and vulnerabilities--a coloratura soprano to a soprano belt. I sang with his ensemble, New England Vocal Arts Ensemble, got church jobs and did a lot of auditions. Later I studied briefly with Phyllis Curtin.
During this time, a second and third epiphany came--each while I was in a church choir. One Sunday, when singing as a ringer (paid substitute) with the choir at First Church in Boston, I sat listening to a soloist whose voice was so beautiful and pure, something within me said clearly that I wanted to sing like that. The next occurred during a choir rehearsal at St. Peter's Church in Weston where I was director of the children's choir and soprano with the adult choir. Whether it was Mozart's Requiem Mass we were rehearsing or not, I'm not sure, but what I remember so vividly is the transcendence I felt singing that high, floating soprano line.
After Berklee, I worked as a choral and theater production accompanist in the Newton school system; I was soloist at Eliot Church in Newton for 4 years--I loved to sing acapella spirituals from the balcony. My poetry was published in national journals. Deep down I knew I was bound to be a songwriter, but when? And how would I adapt this long sought after voice to my own material?
Only when asked to write lyrics to Jenna Drey's music in 1996 did I realize how much I wanted to write my own songs. Beginning in 1998, I was out on the folk circuit. I opened for John Gorka, Connie Kaldor, Cheryl Wheeler, Dana Cooper, Brooks Williams and Lori McKenna and played at art festivals scattered around the country. My first album, "when I left loss", was released in 1999. The second, "Love Flows Like the Blood of a River", in 2003. Beginning in the summer of 2005, writing over a period of 13 months, followed by 21 months of recording and production, I worked on what would become Talon of the Blackwater, my third album. Only as we recorded did I really feel like a songwriter and arranger. When I first heard the songs on our working demo, I believed someone else must have written them. My poetry and my voice had become fully a part of my music.
I love...Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell, Villa-Lobos, Michael Hedges, Messiaen to name just a few...just sitting down to play at the piano...Rilke, George Eliot, the writings of Helen Luke and Carl Jung...riding my bicycle...my life with George...our home in the beauty of western Massachusetts.